New Owners offer Framing, Photo-Printing & Venue for Artists
Paintings by the late Elmira Wood and photographs by Mickey Mathis on view at Galleria Hudson in Jersey City.
By Sally Deering
Downtown Jersey City, on the corner where Jersey and Newark Avenues meet, Galleria Hudson frame shop just got a little more interesting. John and MaryJean Frohling and MaryJean’s son Henry Greenfield took over Galleria Hudson just a few months ago and made some changes. Along with framing services, and large-format photo-printing, Galleria Hudson now offers local artists a venue to show their work.
February is Black History Month, and the Frohlings and Greenfield are spotlighting local photographer Mickey Mathis, a Jersey City resident who can be seen, camera in hand, strolling through local neighborhoods capturing light as it spills onto buildings, and freeze-framing moments in time. Mathis has been chronicling Jersey City’s neighborhoods for more than 20 years. He made his mark as a New York photographer taking pictures of celebrities and big events like the Ali-Frasier fight.
“As a street photographer, you tune into the area you’re at,” Mathis says. “You have to get in there without someone saying ‘get out’. I allow the image to happen. I don’t push my images. At the decisive moment in time, it only exists that second.”
“I like the fact he’s not afraid to go to all out,” MaryJean Frohling says. “Looking at this beautiful winter scene, you realize he was standing in a snowstorm. But it was worth the shot.”
“You can tell from his work, he’s been around Jersey City,” Greenfield adds. “He knows Jersey City. He showed me his portfolio and we chose which pictures we liked that showed a range of Jersey City, images that people are inclined to buy. The show’s only been up one week and we already sold one piece.”
On view with Mathis’s work are paintings by the late Elmira Wood (1941-2013) an impressionist painter who captured scenes of country life – a man with a donkey, a girl playing among colorful butterflies. Born in Philadelphia, Wood spent much of her life as a social worker and moved to Jersey City where she lived more than 40 years. Her paintings have been compared to those of Grandma Moses, and like Moses, Wood discovered she had a passion for painting while in her 60s. It happened during a 3 am bout of insomnia.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night and begin painting the images I see in my dreams,” Wood once said. “I never quite know how the final work will turn out.”
“Elmira’s paintings fuse dozens of colors to produce abstract scenes and figures in rural and small town settings typical of African-American society,” Greenfield says.
One fan describes what he feels after seeing Wood’s work: “You feel happy and come away with an uplifted feeling of peacefulness.”
FRAMES FOR ART; WALLS FOR ARTISTS
“Gallerie Hudson was always a frame shop,” Frohling says as customers come and go on a chilly Monday afternoon. “Back in October, the previous owners were going to sell the business. MaryJean and I decided to buy it. Henry came to help out and found he had an interest and a talent.”
Greenfield, a math teacher, says he gets his talent for framing from growing up with a creative mom.
John Frohling, MaryJean Frohling & Henry Greenfield outside their new gallery & frame shop GALLERIA HUDSON
“She’s specific in describing something when it comes to color, style,” Greenfield says. “I grew up with that and its second nature to me. When it comes to framing, I can see whether the style of the frame fits the mood of the piece, I know how to pay attention to all the things happening in a piece of art.”
The main framer, Jessica Tirado of Jersey City, has been at Gallerie Hudson for several years. Frohling says: “We like her very much. She does a great job.”
The Frohlings and Greenfield say they feel very strongly about making Gallerie Hudson a venue for local artists to show their work. They want the gallery to be more interactive with the community, Greenfield says. A hub for special events. They’re already planning a JC Fridays happening at the store on June. The team is also offering artists and local businesses discounts.
“We’re civic-minded,” Frohling, a lawyer and founding member of the JC Landmarks Conservancy says. He’s also Founding President of the Victory Hall Cultural Center. “We want to get involved in the local arts community, and be a successful small business in Jersey City.”
If you go
February: Mickey Mathis & Elmira Wood
197 Newark Ave, JC
Hours: Tues-Fri, 11 am-7 pm
Sat, 10 am-6 pm